C.A. DIFFERENCE is a campaign to raise public awareness of the critical and powerful role elected prosecutors—called Commonwealth’s Attorneys in Virginia, or “C.A.’s” for short—play in shaping Virginia’s justice system. Simply put, C.A.’s make a BIG difference, and many of them are up for election this year. That’s why we started this initiative—to bring the work of elected prosecutors out of the shadows so that Virginia can “C.A.” Difference in 2019.
WHAT’S A COMMONWEALTH’S ATTORNEY?
Commonwealth’s Attorneys — or “C.A.’s” for short — are the elected chief prosecutors in every county, city and town in Virginia. They are the most powerful individuals in the criminal justice system, shaping justice policy, deciding who gets charged with a crime and which crimes to enforce, and even exerting a powerful influence in the legislature.
In 2019, voters in at least six jurisdictions have a chance to decide whether their local prosecutors and criminal courts reflect their values, or whether it’s time to “C.A.” Difference in our broken justice system.
C.A. Difference Blog
Arlington County/Falls Church
Although Arlington and Falls Church pride themselves on progressive values, those values aren’t always evident in the local criminal justice system, where racial disparities are truly striking, and felony prosecution is unusually aggressive. Incumbent Theo Stamos (D) is challenged by reform candidate Parisa Tafti (D).
Loudoun remains the fastest growing county in Virginia. As its population has changed so have its values. James Plowman (R), who boasted of increasing felony prosecutions and eliminating favorable plea deals, is stepping down to take a Circuit Court judgeship. Candidates to replace him include local defense attorney Buta Biberaj (D) and Deputy CA Nicole Wittman (R).
A mostly-rural county surrounding the world-class university town of Charlottesville, Albemarle’s criminal courts are a time capsule of old Virginia justice. Challenger Jim Hingeley (D), formerly Chief Public Defender for Albemarle and Charlottesville, is running as a reform candidate against incumbent Robert Tracci (R).
With the largest court system in Virginia, Fairfax County boasts a diverse, sophisticated legal community. Steve Descano (D) challenges incumbent C.A. Ray Morrogh (D), pledging to end cash bail, promote racial justice, and move past “tough on crime” policies such as capital punishment and aggressive drug interdiction.
Prince William County
Under the direction of retiring C.A. Paul Ebert, Prince William became one of the 2% of jurisdictions in America responsible for a majority of executions since 1977. Candidates for the vacancy include local defense attorney Tracey Lenox (D), Amy Ashworth (D), an 11-year veteran of Ebert’s office, and Republican Mike May, a former county supervisor.
Chesterfield County is one of the largest court systems in Virginia not served by a public defender’s office. It’s lack of a committed indigent defense bar is borne out in its punitive approach to criminal cases. Reform candidate Scott Miles (D), who won a special election in 2018, runs again in 2019 as an incumbent.
Have a question about C.A. Difference? Is your organization interested in partnering with us? Looking for more information about where and how to vote? We have you covered.
Become a Partner
Show your organization’s support for C.A. Difference by becoming a partner in the C.A. Difference Project.
Have a question? Looking for more information about prosecutorial reform? Feel free to contact us.
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